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The Rainforest

Home | Introduction | Where are the worlds Rainforest? | What are Rainforests like? | Indigenous People | Tourism | Disappearing??? | Conclusion | Bibliography

How do indigenous people live in the Rainforest and how are thier lives changing?

In this page i will tell you all about how Indigenous People live in the Rainforest



The dense forests of Papua are a rich and complicated mosaic of different tribal groups. Far from the coast, at the foothills of the highlands, from an aircraft the land seems like mile after mile of empty barren swamp.

The Amazon rainforest has the biggest amount of different animals and plants in the world, but this is not the same for the tribal people. There are two particular tribes that live in the rainforest that I am going to discuss and I'm going to compare them both and explain their future.


The Ticuna, also spelled Tukuna or Tikuna, live in the Amazon Rainforest near the borders of Peru and Colombia. There are over 70 established Tikuna Aldeias (villages) in the area of the rivers Santo Antonio do Ica and Solimones River. The Tikuna were one of the first major tribes of the Amazon to be contacted by the early Explores. They are one of the last large population groups left in Brazil. Even with over 400 years of contact, the Tikuna Nation has managed to preserve their personal identity through their native language, traditional religions, rituals, and cultural art. They have survived the constant threat of violent extermination by Western society. The Tikuna are a very artistic tribe whose talents include basketry, wood and stone sculpture, and mask making. They also make bark cloth which is a natural fibre, paper-like fabric which they often paint. They are one of the few Amazon tribes that paint just for the sake of the painting as opposed to painting as decoration. Here are some other names for the tribe Tikuna, Tukuna, MagŁa.


the Tikuna tribe. They mostly live in treehouses. There are lots of houses, there will also be a town hall called a Moloka. This is where the tribal people of the village hold meetings to discuss problems encountered in the village.


The Tikuna eat lots of different foods, some of witch they farm. Some of the food they eat is called Marlio ( these are like potatoes ), pineapple bananas, and corn. As you can see They eat some of the same foods as us.

Some food is traded for clothes from modern travellers. They even cut the poison out of roots so that they can eat them. Also lots of fruit has ingu-seeds inside them which taste like marshmallow. As for farming, the Tikuna cut down trees to make land for it. From the age of 6 they had their own land to look after. From the trees they cut down, they burn them and use the ash as fertilizer. They fish by Spear, Another way is to leave the poison from in roots and swirl it around in the water, and it stuns the fish. They also have guns and machetes to hunt animals like monkeys. But they don't have many guns as they are expensive in the village.


The Tikuna have lots of rituals, one of which is that when a child reaches 13 all of their hair on there head is pulled out by the other members of the tribe. The child is given alcohol to make them drowsy but it is still painful. The Tikuna is the largest of tribes consisting of over 25000 people. In the village they even have schools where they learn Portuguese and maths and the Tikuna culture along with other subjects. The tribe of the Tikuna try to keep their old traditions but tourists and travellers are changing that. As I mentioned before the Tikuna trade food for clothes so a lot of them are wearing modern clothes and jeans.. Half a million people are forced off their land by business people and some are ever killed for refusing to leave. 


The second tribe I will tell you about is called the Kombai tribe. They live in houses on very high stilts so the water doesn't get into them. They use palm leaves, mud and wood to make them. They also live in treehouses, But it is very hard to sleep in these houses, they usually stay up for quite a while singing to keep the spirits away from them, they also sleep in groups in 1 room,1 kombai guards the others.


The Kombai used to be cannibals. They perform ancient rituals for tourists; this then generates money for the tribe donated from the tourists.

The Way that the Kombai farm, is called forest gardening. They have their own piece of land right from the age of around 10. What they do is slash and burn, slash down the trees and then burn them. This gives the ground more nutrients which go into the soil to grow more trees.

The tribe also gets sago from the tree. Sago forms a major staple food for the lowland peoples of New Guinea. Sago is made through the following steps:

         Felling the sago palm tree;

         Splitting the trunk open lengthwise;

         Removing the pith;

         Crushing and kneading the pith to release the starch;

         Washing and straining to extract the starch from the fibrous residue;

         Collection of the raw starch to then settle in a container.

         The sago starch is then either baked to like a pancake or mixed with boiling water to form a kind of paste.

They also leave a sago tree to rot and get bugs out of it.

There is one particular food that the Kombai eats this is called Maliok, this is the tribes main starch food.

Like most other people they also eat pineapple, bananas, corn and beans. A rare specialty for the tribe is a wild boar, this is pork.

Another specialty is bat this is only caught when the bat is asleep on a tree so the skilled hunter may kill it with his bow and arrow.

They build damns to stop the flow of water to catch the fish or they use poison to stun the fish. They use dogs for hunting down the wild boar.

The Kombai don't farm, they just eat natural recourses. The Kombai don't really wear anything. Except a leaf over the lower parts. They don't even have any shoes; they have built up thick soles over the years because of the rough ground they are used to walking on. 

The Kombai believe that 'Khakhua-Kuma' is evil and that it eats or takes the soul of a person. If the 'Khakhua-Kuma' comes then they have to eat the person because they believe that if they eat the person the evil will end. The Kombai smoke…a lot the tobacco pipes don't have filters like cigarettes in England so this does much more damage to the lungs. They make pipes out of bamboo and use teeth to cut it. There is gold, copper and wood on their land, so people want to move the Tribe away just for the riches.


These two tribes are very different. The Tikuna hunt for most of their food But the Kombai eats more fruit and farm most of their food. Their fishing is similar, they both use poison to stun the fish but the skilled hunts men of the kombai sometimes use spears. The clothes are different, the tikuna wear leaves below and the kombai wear fairly modern clothes. In my opinion I think that the kombai tribe are changing more rapidly unlike the tikuna, the tikuna have changed slower and haven’t realised there are more modern things to be discovered.

I think it’s a shame that these tribes are being changed by the modern world and their ancient skills and knowledge will be lost…FOREVER!